Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Jester takes a mini-break

 Thanks to Tim Walker for this great blog and wonderful photos, sent in on 30th March 2022, amidst great excitement among Mayow Park users.

It was Monday 28th March when what looked like an enormous bird of prey appeared in Mayow Park. Eagle-eyed newspaper readers quickly identified her as Jester, the missing falcon from London Zoo. National newspapers and TV had reported her daring escape and subsequent sightings in various south west London locations. She has now been absent without leave from the zoo for two weeks. It seems that after trying many other parks, as at Wednesday, she seems happy to stay with us here in Mayow Park.  

She is a crested Caracara falcon, native to the Americas and is a real beauty. She seems happy on the ground grubbing around for worms in the flower beds and across the main field, effortlessly evading occasional crow attacks and uncontrolled dogs by swooping up to the nearest tree. Or she’ll happily walk very close to people, generously offering up photo opportunities. She even spent some time with the outdoor yoga group on the main field.

On Tuesday, after multiple sightings had been reported, two keepers from the zoo arrived. They spent two hours patiently observing and feeding Jester, but she warily stayed just far away enough to evade capture.  They seemed happy that she is healthy and managing well and once she had eaten her fill they said they would come back to try another day. She apparently is more than capable of surviving in our park though, and the zoo asks that people please not try to feed her.

On Wednesday zoo staff were in the park again, saying that she appears to be in good health. They are waiting on some special equipment to catch her and that could be a few days away yet. Wherever she goes, they aim to check on her daily.

After three days here perhaps she will stay long enough for the zoo to find a way to take her home. But meanwhile, it does look as though she’s actually having a very good time here in our lovely park.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

A 5 mile trip along the Waterlink Way

 This positive blog was sent in by Pippa Moss, early March 2022. Pippa lives in Sydenham. She enjoys running through and exploring green spaces in South East London.

Yet again, as the world seems crazy, having somewhere to escape for a calming walk, run or cycle becomes so important. Therefore let’s look at the delights of the Waterlink Way in case you haven’t yet explored it. These photos were taken this week (early March) - hopefully they give you a taste - Spring & Summer will mean more green (hiding the buildings nearby) and less mud!

There are several routes to join the Waterlink Way from Mayow Park but a suggested starting point is down at Bell Green. It’s not the most inspiring approach down between one end of Sainsbury’s and the B & Q carpark, but it quite quickly feels like you are somewhere different. Look out for the blue bridge and turn left and you are walking along next to Pool River. It’s a small river for sure but in the summer you will see picnickers, children and dogs paddling. Schools sometimes do pond dipping and nature trails. A river is a river - although you are unlikely to see any boating on this one. You might get lucky and see a variety of river birds.

You will see walkers, runners, and many cyclists who may be planning to go all the way to Greenwich. Running to Greenwich provides a great reward, particularly when the weather is great, as after 5 miles you stand on the bank of the River Thames (and you can always get public transport back!). However, this blog is going to talk about an approximately 5 mile round trip from Sydenham to Ladywell. A good starting point for most, including those with children.

The scenic path (which is wide and always easy for bikes, buggies, scooters etc) closely follows the River Pool until you reach the ‘Ravensbourne Confluence’ - at this point you are then following the Ravensbourne River. There’s a slightly strange part when you pop out in a carpark at Catford but after crossing it, going through the tunnel under the road (where you usually then find a great coffee van!), you walk past some attractive newly built flats and you are back joining the path by the river again.

For the kids, you could call this route a ‘playground crawl’, as you will then pass playground number 2 which is actually a bit different to your average playground - see photo below of one of the pieces of equipment (although wait until a less muddy time of year!!).

At this point you are at Ladywell Fields. There are paths either side of the water so you can spice things up and take a different one on the way back! There is an adventure playground (mostly open in school holidays) and then a spiralling bridge that takes you into the next section of Ladywell near the hospital. Here there is a skateboarding area, tennis courts, and the Good Hope Cafe with playground number 4 next to it.

If you carried on you would pop out on Ladywell Road. It has a real village feel with some lovely looking shops and cafes. (To join the Waterlink Way after this is a little of a wiggle and probably a 15 minute walk until you pick up the river again - just follow the cycle route signs.)

Or you can grab a Good Hope coffee (a chilled out kind of run with a drink break is surely allowed?) and then head back.

Here are a few photos of things you can look out for on the way, including some rather nicely designed signposts. It is certainly an attractive route, largely hidden from the urban world, with the babbling water alongside you, also with an appealing end goal (either the Good Hope Cafe or the River Thames). You could even take a litter picking stick and black bag with you, especially if you are walking, as parts can unfortunately be spoiled by litter but there are plenty of bins. There are also groups like ‘Nature Volunteering in Lewisham’ (see Facebook) who advertise clean ups. They have one on Saturday 26th March.

Do enjoy and explore this route soon if you haven’t already.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

fallen leaves

 It's that time of year when trees shed their leaves. The leaves turn brown and brittle.  In the park children have fun gathering piles of leaves then kicking them around.  
Let children enjoy this time and please send us your photos.
Park grounds staff  seem to fight a losing battle trying to clear the green spaces for the public to use, particularly the paths where leaves can be a slip hazard. It can keep the park keeper busy on a cold and misty Sunday morning as happened today.
The wonderful tall and majestic ancient oak tree guarding the cafe entrance to Mayow Park played a trick this weekend. It chose to drop all its remaining leaves almost overnight, blanketing the ground across  the park entrance and in front of the cafe. The sheer volume was quite a surprise. 
Not a problem for our park keeper. He took this in his stride and got to work to sweep the leaves off the public highway and into the bushes. Thank you for your effort. 

Sunday, 5 December 2021


 At our orchard maintenance sessions, volunteers could see that the scrub behind the orchard (mainly brambles and elder) was spreading too close to some of the orchard trees. This would affect the growth of our fruit trees in time, with brambles competing for soil nutrients.

Cutting back was the only way. We had our team of volunteers but the task was too overwhelming for us with our hand tools alone - secateurs and loppers.
Fortunately Glendale managers agreed. Glendale is the contracting company that manages the park on behalf of Lewisham Council; cutting back was on their schedule as part of Mayow Park green space maintenance tasks.
We were able to plan our volunteer session to tie in with a day when Glendale’s team was able to work on the task – Thursday 2nd December.
Volunteers at work

Working with hand tools

The nature conservation value for wildlife of the dense hedge of brambles was not forgotten, but this is a public park and there is a need to maximise the grass area available to park users while maintaining spaces for wildlife. Doing this work in winter is probably the safest time.
Our team of volunteers worked with basic hand tools in an area close to the hard standing, while the Glendale team brought a power hedge cutter for the toughest sections. In some parts the brambles were cut back by 3 metres. 
Glendale team get ready

 open space cleared

After cutting back, the area was cleared and the plant matter we had cut was taken away by Glendale for composting.
Cut vegetation removed for composting
That area looks more open and welcoming to park users now.
All photos credit D Budden

Raising the Green Flag in Mayow Park

 On Thursday 2nd December 2021, Mayow Park’s 2021-22 Green Flag was hoisted near the children’s playground. With thanks to the Glendale team (the contractors who look after the park on behalf of Lewisham Council), the Friends of Mayow Park and other park visitors were able to be present to watch this.
Hoist the flag

Group photo

Flag flying high
Lewisham now has more Green Flag parks and community green spaces than previously, so well done to everyone who put in time and effort.

What does the Green Flag denote?

Many Friends of Parks groups regard the Green Flag award criteria as a minimum standard that all parks should strive for.  Sometimes parks are judged in person by a team of experienced trained judges, with park managers/ contractors and members of the park Friends group present to answer questions. Sometimes a judge visits the park anonymously and without advance warning to check that standards are being met at all times and not only on judging day. 

Celebrating trees in Mayow Park



A cold northerly wind and drizzle which kept people at home rather than out and about in their local green space was not the best day to hold FOMP’s Tree Dressing in Mayow Park on 27th November 2021.

Despite that some brave volunteers came to put out tables with refreshments, paper leaves, colouring pencils, wax crayons and waterproof pens for writing messages in celebration of the wonderful trees in Mayow Park.

Our volunteers and activity tables

We set up beside one of the veteran boundary oaks so passers-by could see us and participate, to write and hang their comments around the tree for all to read. Below are just a few of the lovely messages.

I love trees

Love and care for trees

Plant more trees

Save all trees

Thank you for the air for us to breathe

May your stories travel far

Trees are important

It is based on many old customs from all over the world, celebrated at different times of the year. In England it has become an annual event during the Tree Council National Tree Week (end Nov and into December)
Back in 1990, the charity Common Ground  started this as an annual celebration.
Photo from Common Ground's website

Since then it has grown and provides a chance for communities to gather, to value and to celebrate our leafy friends. It is also a time to reflect on the social and cultural history of the local area and the role trees have played in shaping that story.
Trees have sustained us in many ways:
Food, shelter, medicine and the air we breathe
They have influenced our past and will do so into the future
They have a spiritual significance in many cultures

Celebrating Tree Dressing Day in Mayow Park is a wonderful way of saying 'thank you' and showing our appreciation of the trees where we live.

Friday, 12 November 2021


 16th October 2021 – our  ‘Awesome Orchards’ event.

Heavy rain fell as we pitched up in the first hour! We had agreed to cancel the event should there be rain . . . but we didn’t listen to our own advice.

We convinced ourselves to carry on and that drier weather would follow. Luckily it did.  And we had an enjoyable event. 

Sadly all our orchard apples had been stripped from their trees in July and August, months before they were ripe and tasty, and none remained for us to use.

As in previous years, we received apples donated from gardens including Red Delicious and others with made up names such as Tilmaston Tipple, Burghill Bounties and Moss Mayhem (a pear variety!). FOMP also purchased named varieties from the local greengrocer to be sure of enough varieties for tasting:  Spartan, Russet, Cox, Braeburn, Granny Smith and Gala

Apples lined up for tasting

Some donated apple varieties

Bought in named varieties

Our apple tasting activity proved popular. Who would have thought apples could come in different shapes, sizes and tastes? The most popular apple by taste turned out to be the unknown variety given the name Burghill Bounties.

Tasting apples

Another popular activity was the children’s treasure hunt. Children visited orchard trees to find letter clues that would spell a word. When they worked out the word, each child won a small prize.

Pippa’s apple cake and pear loaf were very popular refreshments.

Thanks to Nathalia for researching and making rather attractive orchard fruit tree labels to tie to the tree guards.

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and visitors who joined us in celebration of orchards. Around 50 people attended.